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Posted on 03-15-2017

Often people over the age of 50 have been diagnosed with blepharitis by their eye doctor, but most patients I run into don’t know what is actually causing it.  Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids that can cause red, irritated, itchy, swollen eyelids and the formation of dandruff-like scales on eyelashes. It can also cause chronic dry eye.  It is a common eye disorder caused usually by a bacterial or a skin condition such as dandruff of the scalp or acne rosacea.

In recent years, there has been a new culprit added to the list of causes of blepharitis and specifically rosacea that not many people would typically think of.  It’s called Demodex.  Demodex is actually a common mite that is found in the human skin.  Just as we have bacteria that always resides on our skin, theses mites are similar.  Typically, they don’t cause any problems or symptoms, but as we age these mites can over populate.  Excess mites will cause symptoms and potential chronic problems down the road.  Research has shown that 84% of the population over age 60 has an infestation. 

The best way to know what is causing the symptoms mentioned above is a comprehensive eye exam that focuses on the ocular surface and eyelids.  An eye care professional would be able to diagnose what the cause is and make sure you get the right treatment.    

The treatment for Demodex has varied in the past from using mild soaps and lid scrubs to prescribing antibiotic ointment, but nothing works as well at getting rid of these little guys than tea tree oil.  It has been shown through research that tree tea oil will eradicate Demodex and help relieve the irritation, itching and acne roseace they cause.  Fortunately, there are companies who have formulated tea tree oil into easy to use wipes that are safe to use around the eye and eyelids.  We have had great success with these new products and look forward to educating and treating those who are suffering from these little mites. 

For more information contact SouthWest Vision at 435-414-1616 or online at www.SouthWestVision.org

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